We’ve lived on Thomas Street I remember when we first looked at the property and asked our realtor about this open land next to us, we were assured that nothing would ever be built there. How is that possible? Apparently, the Cooper family had deeded the land to the borough with the intention of keeping it as “open land”. That’s exactly what we wanted to hear. We bought the property and have enjoyed the serenity of “meadow park”. It was peaceful and beautiful with the creek running through it.
That would change, though. In 2004, the borough received a grant as part of a stream restoration project. I remember being told it was to save the banks of the creek from erosion during heavy rains. So along the banks of the creek, restoration begun and wildflowers were planted. There also was a patch of grass about 30 x 40 feet wide that was designated “wetlands” and the same flowers were planted there. Eight years later, the area is more weeds than flowers. And the creek still overflows and floods the area.
(Join the conversation! Email Op-eds to editor Elizabeth Rich at Elizabeth.Rich@patch.com)
This brings me to the current situation. It came to our attention that there is another project planned for the meadow. A bidder for the project told us it was for a walking path and picnic area. Apparently, in 2007, the borough applied for and received a grant in the amount of $47,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for improvements to Meadow Park. However, the first time we are hearing about this is June 2012. For five years, plans have been in the making, and no one within the immediate vicinity of the meadow was informed by the borough.
As concerned citizens, directly affected by this potential project, we went to the next Borough Council meeting and were told that a walking path and picnic tables were to be constructed on the very site that was supposed to be “open land”. A walking path? Surely, everyone in town can walk on the sidewalks that make up a typical borough. Since we had many more questions, we were invited to a special workshop to review the plans and have our questions answered.
Much to our surprise, this walking path will be built in an area that notoriously floods during heavy rains. Not only from the creek, but a large storm drain pipe that is pumping water out from the runoff of Thomas & 5th Street. The walking path will be 5 feet wide and made of macadam. It will run the length of the meadow looping around the “patch of wildflowers” (now weeds) and back to the starting point at Charles Street. It may not be your typical “building”, but this is, in my opinion, construction in an area that, not only floods, but was not to be built on in the first place. The picnic tables are slated to be built on the other side of the creek, next to the small playground that was erected a short time before the creek project. Another area of land that neighbors were told was never to be built on.
What will happen when the area floods, the hot summers, and cold winters that will inevitably damage the macadam? Who will maintain that area? Who will make sure there are no loiterers? Who will clean up the trash? And more importantly, who will pay for all this maintenance and upkeep?
After a little investigating of my own, I also discovered that this particular grant requires a match of funds by the Borough. How much is the match? Where will they come up with that money? Aren’t they already out $15,000? Well, the match of funds will ultimately come from the citizens of Coopersburg. I am one citizen that does not want that to happen.